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House of Mercy homeless shelter reopens with limited capacity 

click to enlarge Earlier this winter, COVID-19 forced the House of Mercy to close its Ormond Street shelter for the homeless - PHOTO PROVIDED BY HOUSE OF MERCY
  • PHOTO PROVIDED BY HOUSE OF MERCY
  • Earlier this winter, COVID-19 forced the House of Mercy to close its Ormond Street shelter for the homeless
Over the House of Mercy's three decades of operation, it has rarely closed. But earlier this winter, COVID-19 forced the Rochester homeless shelter to shut down, said its founder and executive director, Sister Grace Miller.

“For the first time I feel like my hands are tied,” Miller said. “You know, I can’t go in the direction I want to go because there are rules and regulations regarding the pandemic.”

The facility is slowly reopening after a spate of COVID-19 infections among volunteers, staff, and residents at the end of last year. Eight people moved back in last week, in a facility that has 82 beds.

“It was very difficult when one after another, after another caught the virus,” Miller said.

Miller hopes to phase in more people over time and reach full capacity when it's safe to do so.

“We would love it if it ended tomorrow,” said Miller. “It's so devastating.”

But she remains busy as ever, and said she’s staying in contact with residents, helping them find new places to stay. She added that some are staying at hotels while others have other arrangements.

Miller said the House of Mercy is working with Monroe County to get as many members of Rochester's homeless population access to COVID-19 vaccines as possible. Five people received it Thursday night.

“We’re still with our people, even if some of them are at a distance,” said Miller. “We haven’t forgotten them and they haven’t forgotten us.”

James Brown is a reporter for WXXI News, a media partner of CITY.

click image wxxi_news_partners.png

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